For Release: September 10, 2012
Marylhurst University has joined a growing field of colleges and universities deciding not to participate in the annual U.S. News & World Report college rankings process.
The survey purports to measure how higher education institutions serve traditional, full-time students coming directly out of high school and planning to graduate in four years, and is not set up to measure effectiveness of universities like Marylhurst, which serve primarily adult students returning to school mid-life and taking classes part-time.
For example, the survey measures graduation rates based on how many first-time freshmen complete their degrees in four years; at Marylhurst only about 2 percent of undergraduates are first-time students studying full-time, so the U.S. News graduation rate and related data promoted for the university are based on an extremely small sample of the actual student population. Marylhurst also admits students year-round, while the U.S. News report focuses on only those students who enter fall term.
"Over the past several years, it's become clear that the annual U.S. News survey just isn't set up to measure a non-traditional student population like we have at Marylhurst," said David Plotkin, the university's provost. "Until this year, we have dutifully filled out the lengthy survey, leaving many non-applicable sections blank and filling in other sections that reflected only a tiny percentage of our student experience.
"And for the past few years, we haven't even been eligible to be ranked, because we don't use SAT or ACT scores as determining factors in admitting students. Those scores are pretty meaningless when you are 10, 20 or 30 years removed from high school and wanting to complete your bachelor's degree, and those are the students we primarily serve."
A few facts about the Marylhurst undergraduate student population:
- Average age is 36
- More than 90 percent transfer in college credits to Marylhurst
- A large majority of students (75 percent) study part-time (one to two courses per term)
"The adult student population is growing rapidly, not only in our region but nationally, and universities like Marylhurst are increasingly tailoring both undergraduate and graduate programs to meet the needs of working adults who are balancing school with families, careers and other responsibilities," Plotkin said. "There are some very legitimate ways to measure whether those students are being well served in the programs they enroll in, and we do hope that as this student bloc becomes more prominent, national entities like U.S. News will find ways to provide non-traditional undergraduates with information that is useful to their unique circumstances in making college decisions."
Marylhurst has been recognized by the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning for excellence in serving adult students. For example, the university has offered a rich array of online classes for nearly 20 years, and is a national leader in prior learning assessment, a rigorous, writing-intensive process that helps students gain college credit by demonstrating college-level learning.
About Marylhurst University
Marylhurst University, a private liberal arts university 10 miles south of Portland, Ore., on Highway 43, is regionally accredited and nationally recognized for innovation and academic excellence in serving adult learners. Founded in 1893, Oregon's oldest Catholic university serves more than 1,900 multigenerational students of all faiths and backgrounds. Marylhurst offers 50 undergraduate and graduate degrees and professional certificate programs on campus and online, all of which integrate the liberal arts with professional studies and prepare graduates to be ethical leaders who think critically and creatively.